Fife’s top doctor has urged people to stick to Scottish Government guidelines as hospital staff brace themselves for a further rise in Covid-related admissions.
Medical director Dr Chris McKenna said Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy had had to “arm itself” to manage the number of patients admitted with the virus in recent weeks following a reduction during the summer.
He warned an expected continued surge in cases alongside the usual winter threats would pose an increasing challenge and would affect the health board’s ability to deliver routine healthcare.
Dr McKenna said tough decisions would need to be taken and that the impact on staff could not be underestimated.
💬"I've been on call this week and I've already seen quite a lot of presentations with COVID-19"Our Medical Director, Dr Chris McKenna, has been speaking to frontline staff in the Victoria Hospital to listen to their experiences and find out more about the rising number of presentations related to COVID-19.We know it's tough, but please stick with it and continue to follow national guidance to help protect yourself and others around you.😷 Wear a face covering🫂 Avoid crowded places🧼 Clean hands and surfaces regularly2⃣ Stay 2m away from other people🏠 Self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste)
Posted by NHS Fife on Friday, October 23, 2020
In Fife, 190 people tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week and, as of Thursday, 20 were in hospital.
There were 114 people in hospital in the region at the peak of the first wave at the end of April but Dr McKenna said there were zero admissions over the summer months.
“Over the last six weeks, and more so over the last two weeks, the number of patients admitted to the acute hospital has increased significantly,” he said.
“Our acute hospital has had to arm itself again in order to manage those patients admitted with the virus.
“This has a knock-on effect on our ability to deliver other bits of healthcare because this is additional work.”
He added: “As we head into winter our ability to deliver those other parts of healthcare will be an increasing challenge.
“Our staff are willing and ready to take this on but we can’t underestimate the impact of having to go through this a second time for our staff – our critical care is already arming itself.”
The medical director said he understood the need to balance Covid-19 healthcare alongside other healthcare such as cancer, surgery and mental health, as well as the need to bolster the economy, and that staff were doing as much as they could.
However, he warned: “If the number of cases continues to rise, it displaces our ability to do the rest of the system.
“That’s the bit people are struggling with, that we can’t do everything.
“Following the guidelines is so important for that very basic reason.
“If too many people become ill with Covid-19 it starts to displace other things.
“That’s the hard reality we have to face here.
“There will be tough decisions to be taken in the weeks to come about how we prioritise.”
Dr McKenna said there was a degree of frustration at having to tackle Covid a second time, but staff were more experienced and ready for a second wave.
“When we went into this in March nobody really knew what to expect,” he said.
“Now we are going into this informed with local expertise and we are a well-oiled machine.
“We are not going into this blindfolded like the first time but it is a pressure and people are worried.”
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